Get an up-close look at daily life among the Longhouse People with this short documentary from 1951. It depicts the rites and rituals of this Indigenous community, including a rain dance, a healing ceremony, and the celebration of a newly chosen chief.
This short documentary takes a poignant look at cultural misunderstanding and its toll on a family's grief. When filmmaker Gerald Auger lost his father, the local Anglican priest refused to allow the family to bury their father in the traditional Cree way - with the drum and the smudge - because he was buried on Anglican church property. Gerald sets out to resolve his hurt and anger and his path leads him to some unexpected places.Second Stories follows on the heels of the enormously successful First Stories project, which produced 3 separate collections of short films from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Second Stories builds on that success by continuing the training with 3 of the 12 Indigenous filmmakers who delivered such compelling short documentaries. Produced in association with CBC, APTN, SCN, SaskFilm and MANITOBA FILM & SOUND.
This short documentary by Colin Low is an invitation to a gathering of the Káínaa of Alberta - as the Sun Dance is captured on film for the first time. The film shows how the theme of the circle reflects the bands' connection to wildlife and also addresses the predicament of the young generation, those who have relinquished their ties with their own culture but have not yet found a firm place in a changing world.
This feature-length documentary chronicles the Sundance ceremony brought to Eastern Canada by William Nevin of the Elsipogtog First Nation of the Mi'kmaq. Nevin learned from Elder Keith Chiefmoon of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Alberta. Under the July sky, participants in the Sundance ceremony go four days without food or water. Then they will pierce the flesh of their chests in an offering to the Creator. This event marks a transmission of culture and a link to the warrior traditions of the past.
This very short film from the Canada Vignettes series documents the annual pilgrimage that members of Saskatchewan’s Métis Catholic community make to St. Laurent, a village in the Duck Lake area that became the Métis nation’s spiritual centre at the time of the 1885 Northwest Rebellion.
This short documentary follows three Indigenous women as they practice ancestral forms of worship: drumming, singing, and using sweetgrass. These ancient spiritual traditions may at first seem at odds with urban life, but to Indigenous people in Canada who are used to praying in natural settings, the whole world is sacred space.
This feature-length documentary traces the journey of the Haisla people to reclaim the G'psgolox totem pole that went missing from their British Columbia village in 1929. The fate of the 19th century traditional mortuary pole remained unknown for over 60 years until it was discovered in a Stockholm museum where it is considered state property by the Swedish government.Director Gil Cardinal combines interviews, striking imagery and rare footage of master carvers to raise questions about ownership and the meaning of Indigenous objects held in museums.
This short film from 1944 presents the totem pole to a general audience, explaining its significance and how it fits into Indigenous culture. It was filmed in British Columbia, where these monuments, witnesses to an ancient and powerful culture, watch over us.This film is over 70 years old and should be viewed with an understanding that it is an uncensored historical document of its time.
This introspective short animation takes place In the village of Carcross, in the Tagish First Nation. Neighbourhood pillar Grandma Kay tell the local children the tale of how Crow brought fire to people. As the story unfolds, we also meet 12-year-old Tish, an introspective, talented girl who feels drawn to the elder. Here, past and present blend, myth and reality meet, and the metaphor of fire infuses all in a location that lies at the heart of this Native community’s spiritual and cultural memory.
In 1977, Prince Charles was inducted as honorary chief of the Káínaa on their reserve in southwestern Alberta. The ceremony, conducted in the great Circle of the Sun Dance, commemorated the centennial anniversary of the original signing of Treaty 7 by Queen Victoria.
Released in 1969, These Are My People… was the first NFB film made entirely by an Indigenous crew. It was co-directed by Roy Daniels, Willie Dunn, Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell and Barbara Wilson—members of the Indian Film Crew (IFC), an all-Indigenous unit established in 1968 as part of Challenge for Change, a broader organizational initiative to use media to effect social change. One of the first Canadian documentaries to foreground an Indigenous perspective on the history of Indigenous–settler relations, it features Standing Arrow and Tom Porter, from the Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) community of Akwesasne, who discuss longhouse religion, culture, government and the impacts of settler arrival on their way of life.
Ages 14 to 17
Ethics and Religious Culture - Religious Diversity/Heritage
History - Early Colonization/Settlement
Indigenous Studies - Identity/Society
This is a magnificent portrait suitable for screening in history classes as a testimonial to an ancestral, but living, memory. Students can do a research project on the False Face Society, their masks and their symbolism as the starting point for an exploration of the mythology of the People of the Longhouse, i.e., Iroquoian society. Comparing the lifestyles of the Iroquois and Algonquians provides a way to learn about the diversity of communities, historically and more recently, in Canada.